Cool Mornings, Warm Afternoons

September 6, 2021

This morning at 8:30 a.m. the light feels clean and cool. The trail is damp from last night’s rain. Also still wet from last week’s downpour. Red efts are everywhere, and you have to be careful where you step. There are tiny ones, and there are greenish ones that blend into the trail. You must walk carefully and watch where you go each step. The red efts are very happy to have this rain, this dampness, as usually summer at this time is very dry. 

We have certainly passed the midway point of summer, and now our feet are in fall.

September 7, 2021

We went to the big mountains this morning, and the stream is still quite full even a week after the rains. I am always cleansed by these visits. So different from my everyday walks–not one red eft, for example, but a moss green mushroom, a green russula that was just very green I guessed? The damp trail was dark and springy, roots everywhere from the rhododendrons that huddle alongside the stream. This is what I needed after last night’s horrible sleep, and finding a dead baby bunny left by the cat this morning. There is a high church feeling I get when in these mountains, a cathedral feeling, so it was only fitting that I should baptize myself in the waters. It was a cold that clamps down on you, and when you come out it takes a moment for the sun to return your skin. In that minute it doesn’t quite belong to you. And then you are scrubbed clean, free to start over, blessed by the mountain. 

September 8, 2021

Today I had so much on my mind that I was nearly halfway through my walk before I stopped myself to truly notice the wind blowing around the upper branches of the trees. I stared up at them swinging around. It was strange weather–a storm was brewing, high winds expected. The temperature was warm when the wind was still; cool when the breeze pushed through the trees. Warm then cool all day. The ferns have begun to bow down as the weather has begun to change. Only a few red efts were out this evening. The sun was a warm yellow slanting through the hemlocks. White snakeroot blooming here and there. The wind made me take note. 

September 9, 2021

Still and gray, low clouds, humid. It starts to get dark so much earlier now. I walk around the pond, and hints of reds and browns are starting. It’s so subtle, but it’s truly there at the same time. White wood asters line the trail, their white petals with younger yellow to older pink centers. The lighting is so mysterious today–everything is in shade it seems, cast in shadow. The water is high and still, the surface a black mirror. I love how the other side looks–like an impressionistic painting. The gray trunks just straight lines painted from the marsh up, the trees like green clouds billow above them. I think about how perfect this world is. Of course it will go on, but we won’t be able to live in it. Don’t people realize it? It’s not the earth we’re killing, it’s us. It’s us.

September 10,2021

What an unbelievably gorgeous early fall day! These are the days one waits for–cool, crisp, gentle breeze, warm sun, a few stupendous fat white clouds hovering behind the green mountain ridge. We don’t get many, so when they are here I take full note. I walked down by the river today, and you could see the cold has begun to affect the non-native water chestnuts that clot the river in the summer. They start to brown and recede from the center to the shorelines. I was grateful to see more blue water than green water chestnuts today. Up the hill, I hit my stride noticing the goldenrod bending on the trailsides. On the way down the hill, I passed a few deep purple asters hiding behind the goldenrod. Bees lazily working in all of them. The purple loosestrife also joining in. Mushrooms fallen over in the leaf litter, breaking down and melting in the soil. Some mushrooms intact and stout. Around a turn, I could spot the autumn olive or silverberries hanging heavily amidst the shimmery dull green leaves. All the autumn players are out.

I looked up while deep in thought but not thinking anything really, and noticed a hophornbeam tree glowing in the light under the canopy of the bigger oaks trees above it, and I wanted to remember this time, this green, this warmth. I was tucking it away inside for a gloomy gray February day.

September 11, 2021

Another stunning day–blue sky, cool breeze. I am out early, and I feel as if I surprised the red efts. They wriggle on the path beneath me–some of them stop and remain still, hoping to not be dispatched by a large foot and some wriggle helplessly. I can’t help but to wonder about how different each one is, how they all react so differently. I walk carefully.

I am looking for the fisher that I know lives here, and I know I won’t see it . There’s a hole on the side of the trail, burrowed into the thick hedge of ferns, blackberry and rosa multiflora. I know it’s not a deer trail, and it looks just big enough to fit the fisher I saw nearby last year. I am fascinated by them.

There is a new uplifted feeling as I walk through the trees. The season is truly different now. I am transfixed by a patch of sun about twenty feet in–I love how dark the ground is between me and that light. The darkness is rich yet desolate, and spindly trees, mainly painted maples, create a barrier of sorts. It feels like a metaphor, this light-filled green spot just out of reach.

September 12, 2021

I got out for a longer walk this morning, heading out on a trail that I haven’t been on in a while. I walked this trail a lot during the shutdown because it’s hidden and crosses over private property. It was the only place I could walk that was undisturbed by crowds. However, on this walk I noticed that there were plenty more private property signs up, so who knows how long it will last. The weather was buggy and hovered on the precipice of being too humid. There weren’t any grand revelations on my walk today, just a good five-mile tramp through the woods, uphill, crossing through unknown to me areas, going off trail to make my own loop. 

At one point I wondered: should I worry that I’m lost? And I told myself not likely, as this place is so well known to me, I was fairly sure it was impossible to be lost. There is something about that feeling that I sort of like, though, even with its slight panic. The idea that I might not find the trail, that I might not know where I was, felt vaguely pleasurable. This is, of course, because I wasn’t truly lost, just off the patth and finding my way again. It was like a safe kind of lost.

One interesting thing of note that I saw was monotropa hypopitys, which is similar to ghost pipe, being a non-photosynthetic plant. I had seen them before, but I had to refresh my memory and look them up. Also called dutchman’s pipe, or red pinesap. I couldn’t get a very good picture because if you stop even for a moment the bugs descend. The mosquitoes have been brutal since the epic rain we have had. You have to keep walking!

A note to you:

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here! It was really nice to take a break and think about what direction I wanted this space to move in, or if I wanted to continue at all. I really wasn’t sure, but the other day it mysteriously figured itself out. In January 2019, I started writing about my walks every day, and I did it for a year. I enjoyed the daily nature of it; the observations of the changing seasons and climate. And so I have decided that this space will move forward as a nature journal, a condensed week of noting natural observations on the walks I take every day. Each week will be titled with micro seasons in mind, though I think I’ll only get to 52 at the very most. I am also thinking of climate change, and as I walk each day I wonder how the natural world is changing beneath my very feet. In ten years, how will these observations read?

I’ve closed the comments section, but please write to me at julia.c.sforza at gmail dot com. I love hearing from you. I thank you for reading, and I hope you are well!